athlete sports nutrition

Top 5 Athlete Sports Nutrition Facts

Athlete sports nutrition is not rocket science but it is very specific in some areas. Compared to an everyday person who does not exercise very much, an athlete’s nutrition needs will be much higher and require more work. These are my top 5 athlete sports nutrition facts to help you train and compete at your best.

1. Eat Carbs

Carbs are your body’s main energy source. They are converted to a simple sugar called glucose which is stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver.

Your body uses glycogen as energy and has more than enough to last up to 90 minutes of intense exercise. For activities that last longer will require some planning. Try these ideas:

  • Carb loading up to 7 days before an event will help to build your stored glycogen. Here is how it works (old video from my old company name):

  • Athlete need to eat a diet that is higher in carbs especially if they participate in an endurance sport. Normal diets are around 55% of calories from carbohydrates but using athlete sports nutrition, it can be as high as 70%. Really good sources include whole grain breads, cereals and pastas, fruits and vegetables.
  • Consuming simple carbs like those in a sports drink are helpful to add quick energy as they go into your bloodstream quickly. Sports drinks also contain minerals and water which are needed during long exercise sessions. A snack like a protein bar or fruit every 15 to 20 minutes which help as well.
  • Athlete sports nutrition is really important after exercise.  Muscle and glycogen recovery need carbohydrates, protein and a good mix of nutrients using fruits and vegetables.

2. Too Much Protein

Protein is not a major energy source. It is needed to rebuild your muscles. athlete sports nutrition

  • An average person needs 1.2 to 1.4 grams/kg of body weight each day. Athletes will tend to need more as they will break down more muscle fibers due to heavy exercise.
  • Too much protein can result in the excess being stored as fat.  Some research suggests that it can also put a strain on your kidneys. Supplements are a good, quick supply of protein right after exercise in the form of a protein shake but this should not be your main source.  Rely on high-quality lean meats including fish, chicken, beans, nuts, eggs, or dairy products.
  • Athlete sports nutrition theory requires a good combination of carbs and protein as a recovery food and there is no better choice than chocolate milk.  The best part of milk is the combination of fast digesting protein in the form of whey and slow digesting casein.

3. Fats – Good and Bad

We know the standard nutrition guidelines around eating mostly unsaturated fats from good source like avocados, nuts, olive oil, salmon and tuna. New research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can help treat and prevent concussions as they supply specific amino acids to the brain.

4. Avoid Dehydration

athlete sports nutritionA loss of as little as 1-2% of your body weight as sweat can result in a drop in performance. Dehydration can be caused by extremely hot weather, too much caffeine and simply not drinking enough during exercise.Urine color is a good indicator. A pale yellow like lemonade is okay, a darker yellow like apple juice is not.  A bright yellow can be bad but can also be caused by a multivitamin or medication as well.All athletes but especially endurance athletes need to drink 8 to 12 ounces (1 – 1.5 cups) of fluid every 10 to 15 minutes during exercise. Cool water is better as it is absorbed faster than warmer water and will help your body cool down as well.

5. Replace Lost Salts

For sessions over 60 minutes, drink a sports drink to help replenish electrolytes and fluids at the same time. Sweat contains electrolytes so a loss of too much will affect your body’s ability to transmit electrical impulses between the nerves.

Following a solid athlete sports nutrition plan will help you to train and compete at a high level. Your body needs carbohydrates, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, water and electrolytes to perform well. Eat well, play well.

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